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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Pants on Fire – Guest Post by Laura Long

The Hugs and Chocolate ladies are pleased to have Laura Long as a guest today. Hope you enjoy!

Lately I’ve become a bit of a liar. I wish I could say it was one of those 
”Your haircut looks fantastic!” kind of lies, but it’s worse.

Much, much worse.

Because I’ve been lying to myself.

You see, I started thinking, no, *believing* that I would never finish 
writing this book. I could sit down and write scenes, paragraphs, long 
passages of script, but a few days would pass and the doubts would creep in.

“How good is this scene really?”

“Look at all that red–grammar and spelling errors everywhere. Why can’t I 
fix them as I go along? Am I really that stupid?”

“Why are you even trying anymore? It’s not like anyone is reading this.”

I began to see writing as a competition I was losing. I began viewing the 
success of others as diminishing my own work. My own writing gifts weren’t 
the same as someone else’s, so somehow they were less than.

Eventually these thoughts became so overwhelming that they did something 
worse and turned into action. Or rather inaction.

I stopped editing. I stopped writing. I stopped caring.

I let the lies poison something I loved.

A few weeks ago my husband brought me back to my truth.

I have an hour in the morning.

I call it my quiet hour.

My husband is usually getting ready for work, and my children are still 
sleeping. I spend that hour writing. And while I was lying to myself, I 
spent that hour skimming social media websites. Pinning to Pinterest. 
Searching eBay. Doing anything other than what I should have been doing.

“How’s your writing going?” my husband asked me one morning, when I was 
clearly watching a YouTube video of a cat singing the alphabet.

Halfway through my shrug of indifference I started crying.

“I just feel like I can’t do it anymore,” I told him. “I’m just not good 
enough to be a real writer.”

The lies had become so crippling, it wasn’t about the writing anymore, it 
was the way I felt about myself.

Then my husband planted my first truth. The first step in smothering the 
lies.

“But you’ve already done it,” he said.

“What?” I asked him, hiccuping.

He looked confused and said, “You’ve already written a book. So obviously you’re good enough.”

He pointed at my goal chart on the wall next to me. “Finish a book. Check.”

When he saw I wasn’t going to respond, and I wasn’t crying anymore, he straightened up and went to fix his lunch.

I grasped at the first truth. Then I read the rest of my goals.

Write my book. Check.

Sell a hundred copies. Check.

Get my first good review from a stranger. Check.

And on and on. Yes, most of them weren’t checked, but a good third of them were.

I felt a little better. I was good enough to finish a book. I decided to 
write this down, because I am a writer and that is what we do (which I also 
wrote down). I then began to fill my belief box with more truths to starve 
my lies. I read the educational blogs I had been neglecting, to root out 
more truths about myself, and search for truths that perhaps I could work 
on.

I took back my quiet hour, free from distractions and all the things I 
thought were clamoring for my attention.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.

John 8:32

Am I really free yet? No, but now I recognize the lies for what they are, 
and I can move forward.

That is what is really important.

LM Long is the author of “Founder,” and a writer for the blog “Mommy 
Authors.” She strives to find the balance between parenting and writing.

(Links)

Founder: 
http://www.amazon.com/Founder-ebook/dp/B0053DU8KQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&…

Mommy Authors: http://mommyauthors.blogspot.com/

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It’s in the choices you make

The older I get, the easier it becomes for me to accept all the bad things that has happened in the years that brought me to the age I am now.  When you’re younger and life strikes at you, it feels like the end of the world, doesn’t it? There’s a lot of feeling sorry for yourself, lots of ‘why is this happening to me’, ‘I don’t deserve this,’ and so forth. But then, the younger we are, the more selfish we are when it comes to our feelings and how we see the world. We only lose that as we get older and learn what life is all about.

This week we’re talking about what we’ve learned over the years and I want to tell you about the thing that had the biggest impact on my life. It’s something I wish I’d learned a lot earlier in life, but things turn out the way they are supposed to at the end of the day, right? No matter how we get there.

What I learned is that I have a choice.

It’s as simple as that. Sounds pretty straightforward, and it makes me wonder why I hadn’t realized this before my 24th birthday. It took me twenty-four years to stop worrying so much about everything all the time. It’s exhausting and takes up so much time that I missed out on the other things I could have done.

We don’t have a choice about the bad things that happen in our lives, yours and the ones of the people you care about. What you do have a choice about is what you do with it, how you handle it, and how it affects you as a person. This is what I wish I’d known earlier.

But when I think about it, would I have changed being like that and thinking the way I did? I’m not sure I would, because changing any of that would mean me not being where I am today. I’m pretty okay with right now. I enjoy my job most of the time, I get to write and read as much as I like. I have important people in my life and I like to think that to them I’m important as well. My family’s great, I get to be myself without too many people pulling faces at it(something I’ve chosen not to care about 😉 ).

I’ve decided/chosen to do and not do a lot of things over the past four years and I can’t even tell you how things have changed. The biggest of them all, I’m a happier person.

With that out of the way, here’s a list of a few things I’ve learned over the years:

Like the image to the right, be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Those words are so true. EVERYBODY is dealing with somethings. The type of person they are determines the level of their battle, and ultimately how they will fight it. This ties in wonderfully with choice.

I’ve leaned not to care so much about things that won’t matter in two weeks time, two months, 2 years. Because caring leads to worry, worry leads to stressing, and before you know it, 3 years have passed and you have nothing to show for it except an ulcer.

Sometimes it’s better to have no plan at all and take it one day. The world isn’t ending anytime soon. Stop, take a breath, sit on the couch, and stare at the wall. Give yourself a moment or two to unwind.

I’ve learned that not everybody cares about what you’re going through, but those who do, those are the people who really matter and will always be there for you. Treasure them.

When I accept that things aren’t going to happen immediately, things get easier and life a little less stressful.

People will disappoint you, but there are ones that will surprise you too.

You have to work to be happy, but you don’t have to be unhappy while doing the work. If that makes sense.

You won’t get along with everybody and vice versa. AND THAT’S OKAY. Stop trying to please everybody, life will be easier that way.

Yes, life is hard, but it wouldn’t be worth living if you didn’t have to put an emotional and physical shoulder to the wheel. You have to fight, sometimes with claws, sometimes with a pillow 😀

I’ve learned that it’s okay to revel in your victories, and you’re allowed to feel sorry for yourself. Just do both with the same amount of restraint.

Don’t annoy/offend people on the internet, especially not on twitter and definitely not writers/authors. We circle our wagons and defend each other like a lioness with her cubs. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve experienced in years. Not because of personal experience, but from what I’ve seen.

I’ve learned that writing communities/writer friends are worth their weight in gold. I’m saner because of both 🙂

Have you made any important choices? Something that changed your life?

 
13 Comments

Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Personal Experience, Uncategorized

 

Instruction Manual for a Full-Time Writer?

One day a couple of months ago, I had an awesome day. I worked on my novel, wrote two blogs and was a social media ninja. When my husband came home, I said (with a slightly elevated volume and enthusiastic hand gestures) I should be a full time writer because I own this biz. I believe he followed my exclamation with a roll of the eyes and left the room.

Today, that dream has come true. When I left my home business behind in my last town, I decided to dedicate myself to being a mom and a writer (granted, with two kids in diapers, it’s more mom). Finally!

So have I been writing? Well… I am writing this blog. Does that count?

I admit it’s been a bit of a slow start. I may still be unpacking but the thoughts and ideas are still very much there. And I know I have the time to at least write a few hundred words. I always have time for that. But I think my hesitation stems from the fact that it’s a bigger transition from part-time writer to full-time writer than simply having more time. It’s a different outlook on writing and the image of my writerly self. No longer am I using the phrase “one day.” Now, it’s “today.” Talk about pressure.

Not to mention, not being contracted yet means no one is waiting on me, and no deadline means it often gets pushed to tomorrow. Always tomorrow.

So how does this work, being a full-time writer? How do I come to grips with what it means and when do I say enough procrastination?

I don’t know, but here’s what I’m thinking…

Scheduling. I don’t think we’d show up for any job if we didn’t have specific times to clock in and clock out. With no one to answer to, a schedule becomes even more important.

Motivation. Without the motivation of a paycheck or a deadline, I have to rely on myself for reasons to keep going. Setting my own deadlines and focusing on the story motivate me to make the time.

Being Realistic. With young kids, I can’t expect my writing time to always be quiet or even available, and I certainly won’t have an agent by next week. Getting discouraged will only make the process harder. Writing a novel is one day at a time.

Faith. I know I’ll make my dream happen. I love it. It means everything to me. And I’m too damn stubborn to quit. I’ll need to remember this on the hard days.

I’m so excited to start this next chapter of my life and begin to focus on my passion. I don’t take for granted how lucky I am. Now is my chance to get my words out there and I’m taking it.

For those of you who write full time, how did you make the transition? Do you have any suggestions for me?

Photo by Marcin Wichary

 

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Living and Learning

I’m continuing the theme this month of discussing the things I’ve learned in my time on earth. I’ve been jotting down sentences all week in preparation for this post. The Hugs and Chocolate ladies have left me with a tough act to follow, but here goes.

Writing is a very individualized process. What works for one writer may not work for another. That’s one of the many reasons I love writing.

Age is only a number. I’ve been the youngest person at nearly every place I’ve worked. I was a marketing manager, fresh out of college, with eight people under me, when I was 22. I no longer tell people how old I am, because some people only respect others based on age. Give everyone a chance. Always. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn from someone just by being around them.

Unfortunately, people don’t often like to see others succeed. You know what, tell those people they can kiss your…you get the picture. Surround yourself with people who genuinely want the best for you. Surround yourself with friends who encourage you and bring out the best you possible.

Life is too short to fight with people you love. Whether it’s a friend or a loved one, work on the problem instead of letting it get out of hand.

Do what makes you happy. Money is nice, but happiness is lasting.

You’ll always spend as much as you make. My mom said this to me about a month ago. I’d just gotten a promotion, and a week later, my car needed costly repairs. Needless to say, I wasn’t planning on purchasing a new car, but life has a way of butting in.

It’s okay to splurge every now and then. If you work hard, play a little, or you’ll go crazy…trust me on this one.

It’s okay to want to be alone. I love my “me” time. I need it to recharge. Some people don’t understand, and that’s okay–everyone has their own way of recharging, and this is mine.

This is something I’m learning, and haven’t mastered, but I’m trying. It’s okay to take a break and not feel guilty about it. Veg. We all need down time. Watch movies, eat popcorn, go outside, but don’t even think about writing, or anything, just enjoy being alive.

Excuses are just that…excuses. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find the time, energy, and tools necessary to make it happen. If you know me, then you know I have a pretty low tolerance for excuses. We all have things in our life that get in the way. Find a way to make your dreams come true.

I’ve met some of my best friends online. I love them dearly, and they are amazing.

Never give up. Giving up is admitting defeat, and no one likes to say they’ve been defeated.

Furry things make life better. I have three animals. They are my children. That may not make any sense to you, but it does to me.

You don’t have to pay money to learn. The internet is full of free educational materials. Soak it up. Also, there’s the library. Utilize the resources you have.

This part of my list may be a little depressing. These are the specific things I’ve learned in the past two and a half years due to my chronic illnesses. Hopefully it can help someone out there going through something similar:

Don’t take your health for granted.

When you have a chronic illness (or two or possibly three. Yep. Found out I have more than one.), you learn a lot about yourself. I’ve learned I’m stronger than I ever thought. Every time I get new information about my health, it’s typically not good news. And every time, I’m able to handle it. I often think if one more thing happens, then I don’t know how I’ll make it. But make it I do.

Relearning things about myself is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I went from healthy to not being able to hardly walk in a very short period of time. I had new limits. I used to run 6.2 miles a day. Now, I’m lucky if I can do a mile.

It’s okay to have pity parties as long as you know you’re having one and set start and end times for them. If I’m having one, I acknowledge it but say, “tomorrow, I’m going to wake up and be over it.” That usually works. Sometimes it takes longer than a day, and that’s okay, too. Take the time to learn coping strategies and how to be a better you.

Okay, enough of the depressing part. Please know I am grateful for my fellow Hugs and Chocolate ladies and all of the readers. Thank you so much for checking out our site and letting us into your lives. It means a lot–truly. You are all amazing, and I can’t wait to hear more about the things you’ve learned in your life.

 

Dream Big

I’ve spent the week thinking about the things I’ve learned in my thirty *cough* years.  I must admit that I felt a bit daunted putting together this list, especially after reading so many wonderful bits of wisdom from my fellow bloggers already. They’ve all imparted several bits of wisdom that I would have concurred, so I’m going to try not to repeat what they’ve already said.  I think I’m the oldest of the hugs and chocolate group, although I’m not sure how many times Rebecca has turned 29, I think I might have turned 29 at least one more time than she has, but it’s never a good idea to ask a woman her age so we’ll leave it at that.

Be true to yourself- don’t compromise who you are for others.

Be authentic- People want to get to know you for you and they can smell if you’re being fake.

Books can take you more places than a pair of shoes ever could.I can buy roughly 71 books for the price of one pair of Jimmy Choo shoes.

You catch more flies with honey- Yes, it’s an old southern saying and it’s true. Be kind, ask nicely, and use the word please.

If you’re looking for a lost CD, you won’t find it. But you will find the lost shoe you were looking for last week.

Fear is the dream stealer.

No matter how mutual the decision, divorce is never easy.

You learn more from failure than you do success

Take Risks and be open to new experiences.

Never turn your back on the waves in Hawaii

Playing an online video game is an unexpected place to fall in love

You can have long and lasting friendships with people you’ve virtually met

The older you get, the less you actually know.

You can take the girl out of Texas but you can’t take Texas out of the girl.

The brain only has the capacity to hold so much information. The day you turn 30 it reaches its limit and must begin to dump old information to make room for new information.  That’s why I have trouble remembering where I put my keys.

Talk less and listen more. Everyone has an amazing story to tell if you’re willing to keep your mouth shut long enough.

Never forget to tell the people you care about that you love them. They won’t be around forever.

Love deeply.

You reap what you sew and karma is a bitch

Dream big- the only one stopping you from achieving your goal is you.

Ok hugs and chocolate community. Now it’s your turn. I want to hear what you’ve learned in life. 🙂

 
13 Comments

Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Dancing Through Life

Nope, stop asking. I’m not going to do it. My age is only told on a need to know basis. I officially stopped having birthdays when I turned 29. Just because I’ve stopped aging doesn’t mean I’ve stopped learning. In my years I’ve learned lessons of great beauty. I’ve learned there are things which happen in life that can knock the air out of you and bring you to your knees. There is sorrow so deep where each breath you take is a battle fought and won, but there is also happiness so profound that you can’t see straight or stop smiling for days. Those are the days I aim for.

This post would be humungous if I listed even twenty nine things I’ve learned – because I’m a talker. So, instead, I’m going to give you a short list of the most important things I’ve learned.

Laugh. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with your family, friends, complete strangers – it doesn’t matter, just laugh. Laughter is a language we all understand.

Smile. You never know what hope you can give someone by the smallest smile. It’s something that’s so easy on your part, but you have no idea the impact it can have.

Hug. Hug like you mean it. I’m not talking that barely touching air hug. No, if you’re going to hug someone, hug them. Everyone needs contact and to know how important they are.

Listen. When you’re with someone, listen to them. Put your cell away and listen to them. If they’re not worth all your attention, then why are you with them?

Love. It’s something easy to give and the returns are tremendous. I try to remember to tell my friends I love them, because I do. They’re important to me, which is why they’re my friends. Don’t worry about what other people think.

Let grudges go. If someone offends you, you have two choices, let it go or let them go. Don’t hold onto grudges because they don’t get better with age. They blister and fester and are always there under the surface waiting for a chance to explode. If the person hurt you so badly that you can’t get over it, then reconsider having this person in your life.

Stand up for your beliefs, no one else will. Silence is acceptance. I grew up not understanding politics or my place in them. Seeing what’s happened in the world over the past few years has lit a fire in me. Last year I participated in my first protest march. I hope I never forget the sound of the drums beating or the feel of being in a crowd of thousands standing up for a common belief.

Learn to fix something. I’ve never considered myself a handyperson. Ever. However, my dad started buying me tools and teaching me how to use them. I’ve since learned rudimentary carpentry, drywall hanging (have to admit, I’m pretty good at hanging and finishing drywall), resurfacing walls and laying tile to name a few. I don’t recommend you do anything like electrical wiring or something dangerous. But, if you have a hole in the wall, get the materials and fix it. Learn how to fix a flat tire or tinker around with something until you fix it. It’s kind of cool to see the things you never knew you were capable of.

Take opportunities to do new things, even if they scare you. I’ll admit I’ve missed a lot of chances because I was afraid of looking stupid or that it wouldn’t be fun. A few years ago my uncle asked if I’d like to go with him and his wife to see the traveling Broadway production of Wicked. My first thought was to turn it down. It was $40.00 I didn’t really have, I didn’t really have the clothes and I’d read the book and hadn’t liked it enough to sit through a play about it. I said I needed to think about it. I almost said no… but it was a Broadway production. I went. For almost three hours I sat in the nosebleed section, absolutely enchanted. A couple of weeks later I took my son to see it. To this day, he’s not forgotten it and we know every word to every song. That’s one regret I don’t have.

Be random, be weird, be you. Creative people have a reputation to live up to. If you have a lot of writer friends on social media sites, at time it feels like a competition to see who’s the most creative, has the best imagination, is the weirdest, etc… For as much as we try to be different, we all end up looking the same. But what if you were just the best you that can be? There’s no one like you and to be truly unique and stand apart, that’s who you have to be – you!

 

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33 And It Feels Divine

   

  “To err is human, but it feels divine.”

              ~Mae West

     I love this quote. Mae West had wit, charm, and knew no fear. Exactly the kind of woman I aspire to be. Another woman I hold in high regard is the indomitable Karen S. Elliott. As Jamie mentioned, we’re paying tribute to her post A Bunch of Stuff I’ve Learned in 40+14 Years. If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out. She is one cool lady.

     Age is relative, it’s only a number. Until your teen co-worker refers to Nirvana as “classic rock.” That set me back for a moment, but then I remembered I love classic rock, it is the epitome of cool. This led me to the logical conclusion that I am cool and am indebted to society to pass along said coolness.

     Or something like that.

     Life is divine:

     * Break your own rules

     * Forgive. Yourself.

     *Go for long walks as often as you can. Eat out alone. Like your own company.

     *Read. Read. Read. Read in the tub, on the toilet. Read in waiting rooms, grocery store lines, before bed.

     * Make a conscious effort to step outside of your comfort zone every day. Smile at a stranger. Don’t be afraid to suck at karaoke. Say yes. Say no.

     *Take the time to figure out what you love. The saddest people I’ve met are the ones who don’t know themselves.

     Love is divine

     * A good relationship is one in which you bring out the best in each other. Anything less is settling. Don’t waste your time being miserable. You deserve to reach your potential.

     * Love is not a reasonable endeavor. Make room for the unexpected and laugh together often.

     * Men and women are different. Accept this and move on- agree to disagree on occasion.

     Children are divine

     *Lead by example.

     * Laugh when you want to scream. They already think you’re crazy, anyway.

     * Teach them empathy and how to explore their own creativity.

     * Let them know living outside the box is okay.

     * And for Pete’s sake-Discipline them. Say “no”. Set guidelines. Don’t get mad, get creative. And instruct them to clean up their own messes and take responsibility for their actions.

     * Assign chores. You’re their leader- delegate.

     * Never tell them they are stupid or let them believe they are unworthy.

     Writing is….

     * Passion, craft, art, masochistic, rewarding, and divine in a we-should-be-in-straight-jackets kind of way.

     * The story. It’s the important thing.

     * Trust your instincts, but be open to change.

     * Find a writing community, or at least someone whose opinions and guidance you value. We all know it’s lonely work, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have friends and colleagues to commiserate with.

     * As in life– Forgive yourself & don’t be afraid to break your own rules.

This is my current theme song. Hope you enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O-BwV0DDUY

 

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